Harmon Has Lefty on Long Road to No 1

By Associated PressMay 14, 2007, 4:00 pm
The Players ChampionshipPONTE VEDRA BEACH, Fla. -- They are the most famous family of golf instructors, and even better at giving each other the needle. So when Butch Harmon was voted the No. 1 golf coach, his younger brothers fired off a friendly dig. Butch wasn't even the best teacher in the family, he just had the best students.
 
Greg Norman had more raw talent than anyone during the height of his powers. He spent nearly three years at No. 1 under Harmon's watch, including a second British Open title and a victory in THE PLAYERS Championship with a score (24 under) that might never be broken.
 
The other guy Harmon helped take to the top was Tiger Woods, a relationship that lasted nearly 10 years and included four consecutive majors, three straight U.S. Amateur titles, the career Grand Slam and an overhaul of his swing in the middle of all that.
 
Harmon knows what he's doing. Even some of his fiercest rivals in golf instruction concede that.
 
But his next project - another bundle of ability - is the tallest order yet.
 
'Butch, the 1st of many,' Phil Mickelson wrote on the 18th flag after winning THE PLAYERS Championship with precision rarely seen from such a swashbuckler.
 
Maybe he used '1st' instead of spelling it out because Mickelson was in a hurry. Or perhaps this is the first time Mickelson has reason to believe he can be No. 1 in the world.
 
Harmon was the center of attention Sunday afternoon as his latest student accepted the crystal trophy for beating the toughest field in golf. They have been working together only a month, and already are seeing results. Harmon put no limits on how much better Mickelson will get as they start preparing for the U.S. Open at Oakmont for now, and taking on Woods in the future.
 
'You've got to realize you're dealing with one of the most talented people that's ever played the game,' Harmon said.
 
Woods missed this conversation because he had left the TPC Sawgrass long before Mickelson even teed off. One week after winning the Wachovia Championship against a stellar field on a demanding golf course, Woods couldn't break par until the final round, when four straight birdies and an eagle carried him to a 67 and a tie for 37th.
 
Even so, Woods remains a bigger obstacle than any flaws Mickelson is trying to correct in his swing.
 
Harmon has taken two players to No. 1, but he never had to chase down a guy of Woods' stature.
 
Mathematically, Woods has twice as many points as Mickelson in the world ranking and likely still stay at No. 1 for at least the rest of this year. Mickelson, who can sound like a rocket scientist at times, is aware of this.
 
'There's such a big lead in the way the points are that it's a two-year process from whenever somebody starts,' Mickelson said when asked if he could get to No. 1. 'But I haven't thought about that yet. I still have a lot of work to get my ball-striking to where I would give myself a chance to contend.'
 
In the last 10 years, only Norman, Ernie Els, Woods, David Duval and Vijay Singh have been No. 1. Duval got there in 1999 after winning 11 out of 34 starts on the PGA TOUR as Woods was revamping his swing. Singh reached the top in 2004 by winning nine times and a major, while Woods again was rebuilding his swing under Hank Haney.
 
Paul Casey was asked late last year whether it was an unreasonable goal to aim for No. 1.
 
'It can be done, and I don't think Tiger would disagree,' Casey said. 'But he would find a way to work twice as hard to make sure it didn't happen. And that's the difficult part.'
 
No matter what Phil does next, Woods figures to have the final say.
 
It would be easy to get caught up in one week, one victory at THE PLAYERS Championship. And while Woods looked ordinary at Sawgrass, he still has won nine times in his last 13 starts on the PGA TOUR, including two majors and a runner-up finish at the Masters.
 
That's where Rory Sabbatini sounded silly last week in saying that Woods struggled with his swing to win the Wachovia Championship, and he looked 'more beatable than ever.'
 
'I've won three times this year, the same amount he's won in his career,' Woods said, as if flicking a mosquito from his shoulder. Some were quick to say Mickelson would be the favorite at Oakmont, although that could change if Woods wins the Memorial this month.
 
Even so, Mickelson presents the most tantalizing rival.
 
He was good enough to win a PGA TOUR event while still in college. He has piled up 31 victories and three majors during his 15 years on tour, numbers surpassed only by Woods among active players. But his discipline has been lacking, either with a swing that went too far past parallel or a strategy that paid more attention to reward than the risk.
 
Harmon spent two hours with Mickelson on Saturday morning and 90 minutes Sunday morning. He said he is trying to get more flex in his back leg to keep his hips from turning as much. Harmon is equally interested in changing the way Mickelson thinks.
 
The trick is to get Mickelson to play more conservatively, 'which might be a bigger problem than the swing.'
 
Three weeks into their relationship, Mickelson was third at the Byron Nelson, third at Wachovia and he won THE PLAYERS. You can imagine how excited he is about the rest of the year and beyond.
 
'What's most exciting is I feel like we're just getting started,' he said. 'This is only week No. 3. In three months, how much am I going to progress? In three years, where am I going to be? I'm really excited about the direction I'm headed.'
 
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    Tributes pour in for legendary caddie Sheridan

    By Randall MellNovember 23, 2017, 2:54 pm

    Tributes are pouring in as golf celebrates the life of Greg Sheridan after receiving news of his passing.

    Sheridan, a long-time LPGA caddie who worked for some of the game’s all-time greats, including Kathy Whitworth and Beth Daniel, died Wednesday in Indian Rocks Beach, Fla., at 63. He was diagnosed in July 2016 with brain and lung cancer.

    Sheridan worked the last dozen years or so with Natalie Gulbis, who expressed her grief in an Instagram post on Wednesday:

    “Greg…I miss you so much already and it hasn’t even been a day. 15+ seasons traveling the world you carried me & my bag through the highs and lows of golf and life. You were so much more than my teammate on the course…Thank you.”

    Sheridan was on Whitworth’s bag for the last of her LPGA-record 88 titles.

    “When I first came on tour, I would try to find out how many times Greg won,” Gulbis told Golfweek. “It’s a crazy number, like 50.”

    Matthew Galloway, a caddie and friend to Sheridan, summed up Sheridan’s impressive reach after caddying with him one year at the LPGA Founders Cup, where the game’s pioneers are honored.

    “Best Greg story,” Galloway tweeted on Thanksgiving morning, “coming up 18 at PHX all the founders were in their chairs. Greg goes, `Yep, caddied for her, her and her.’ Legend.”

    In a first-person column for Golf Magazine last year, Gulbis focused on Sheridan while writing about the special bond between players and caddies. She wrote that she won the “looper lottery” when she first hired Sheridan in ’04.

    “Greg and I have traveled the world, and today he is like family,” Gulbis wrote. “Sometimes, he’s a psychologist. Last year, my mom got sick and it was a distraction, but he was great. When I used to have boyfriend issues and breakup issues, he was my confidant. In a world where caddies sometimes spill secrets, Greg has kept a respectful silence, and I can’t thank him enough for that. He’s an extension of me.”

    Four months after Gulbis wrote the column, Sheridan was diagnosed with cancer.

    “The LPGA family is saddened to hear of the loss of long-time tour caddie, Greg Sheridan,” the LPGA tweeted. “Our thoughts and prayers are with his family and players he walked with down the fairways. #RIP.”

    Dean Herden was among the legion of caddies saddened by the news.

    “Greg was a great guy who I respected a lot and taught me some great things over the years,” Herden texted to GolfChannel.com.

    Here are some of heartfelt messages that are rolling across Twitter:

    Retired LPGA great Annika Sorenstam:

    LPGA commissioner Mike Whan in a retweet of Gulbis:

    Golf Channel reporter and former tour player Jerry Foltz:

    Christina Kim:

    LPGA caddie Shaun Clews:

    LPGA caddie Jonny Scott:

    LPGA caddie Kevin Casas:

    LPGA pro Jennie Lee:

    Fitzpatrick one back in 2018 Euro Tour opener

    By Associated PressNovember 23, 2017, 1:37 pm

    HONG KONG – S.S.P. Chawrasia had six birdies and a bogey Thursday for a 5-under 65 and a one-stroke lead at the Hong Kong Open, the first event of the 2018 European Tour season.

    Playing in sunny but breezy conditions at the Hong Kong Golf Club, the greens had the players struggling to gauge the approach.

    ''Very tough conditions today,'' Chawrasia said. ''It's very firm greens, to be honest. I'm just trying to hit the second shot on the green and trying to make it like a two-putt.''


    Full-field scores from the UBS Hong Kong Open


    Shubhankar Sharma and Matthew Fitzpatrick (both 66) were one shot behind, while seven others were tied for fourth a further stroke behind.

    ''Hit it great tee to green,'' Fitzpatrick said. ''I think I had like seven or eight chances inside 15 feet, and on a day like today when it's so windy and such a tough golf course, with how tight it is, yeah, it was a good day.''

    Justin Rose, who won the title in 2015, shot was 2 under with five birdies and three bogeys.

    ''I think the course played a couple shots harder than it typically does,'' Rose said. ''I like this course. I think it offers plenty of birdie opportunities.''

    Masters champion Sergio GarciaRafa Cabrera Bello and defending champion Sam Brazel (69) were in a group of 16 at 1 under.

    Day, Spieth chasing Davis after Day 1 of Aussie Open

    By Jason CrookNovember 23, 2017, 6:50 am

    The PGA Tour is off this week but a couple of the circuit’s biggest stars – Jordan Spieth and Jason Day – are headlining the Emirates Australian Open, the first event in The Open Qualifying Series for the 2018 Open at Carnoustie. Here's how things look after the opening round, where Cameron Davis has opened up a two-shot lead:

    Leaderboard: Davis (-8), Taylor MacDonald (-6), Nick Cullen (-5), Day (-5), Brian Campbell (-4), Lucas Herbert (-4), Stephen Leaney (-4), Anthony Quayle (-4)

    What it means: Spieth has won this event three of the last four years, including last year, but he got off to a rocky start on Thursday. Playing in the windy afternoon wave, the world No. 2 bogeyed his first two holes but rebounded with birdies on Nos. 4 and 5. It was more of the same the rest of the way as the 24-year-old carded three more bogeys and four birdies, getting into the clubhouse with a 1-under 70. While it certainly wasn't the start he was hoping for, Spieth didn't shoot himself out of the tournament with 54 holes left to play, he has plenty of time to claw his way up the leaderboard.


    Full-field scores from the Emirates Australian Open


    Round of the day: With Round 1 in the books, the solo leader, Davis, is the easy pick here. The 22-year-old Aussie who turned pro last year, came out of the gates on fire, birdieing six of his first seven holes, including four in a row on Nos. 4 through 7. He did drop a shot on the ninth hole to go out in 30 but rebounded with three more birdies on the back to card a 8-under 63. Davis, who was born in Sydney and played this year on the Mackenzie Tour in Canada. He will attempt to get his Web.com Tour card next month during qualifying in Arizona.

    Best of the rest: Making his first start in his home country in four years, Day started on the 10th hole at The Australian Golf Club and made four birdies to one bogey on the back side before adding four more circles after making the turn. Unfortunately for the 30-year-old, he also added an ugly double-bogey 6 on the par-4 eighth hole and had to settle for a 5-under 66, good enough to sit T-3. Day, who has dropped to No. 12 in the world rankings, is looking for his first win on any tour since the 2016 Players Championship.

    Main storyline heading into Friday: Can the upstart 22-year-old Davis hold off the star power chasing him or will he fold to the pressure of major champions in his rearview mirror? Day (afternoon) and Spieth (morning) are once again on opposite ends of the draw on Friday as they try to improve their position before the weekend.

    Shot of the day: It’s tough to beat an ace in this category, and we had one of those on Thursday from Australian Brad Shilton. Shilton’s hole-in-one on the par-3, 188-yard 11th hole came with a special prize, a $16k watch.

    Quote of the day: “Just two bad holes. Pretty much just two bad swings for the day,” – Day, after his 66 on Thursday.